A substance called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – widely referred as bad cholesterol – can lead to several cardiac conditions. Statins are medications more commonly used to inhibit the build-up of such lipids and fats. Most statins form part a family of drugs called as HMG-CoA reductase inhibiting medicines. You ned to know HMG-CoA reductase is an enzyme. As this enzyme is essential for your liver to make cholesterol, inhibiting it leads to a fall in your LDL levels. Medical studies have also identified that synthesis of cholesterol in your liver occurs mainly during bedtimes. So, intake of statins – such as pravastatin – can be a constructive step in keeping harmful lipids from being made in the body. However, statins like pravastatin may also trigger a few adverse side effects. You need to know what these possible side effects are, and take needful inputs from your treating doctor to avoid or manage them.
The main use of pravastatin is to reduce levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) as well as triglycerides. An increased level of these lipids or fats is linked to risks of heart disorders and strokes. People who have suffered cardiac arrests are known to have high levels of LDL in their blood. Physicians who treat such conditions often prescribe drugs called as statins; such as pravastatin to reduce the risks; however, you may also be advised to pursue efforts to decrease your bodyweight. Loss of bodyweight may also need a balanced diet plan and a regular workout regimen.
Pravastatin is categorized under a group of drugs known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibiting medications. As this enzyme plays a crucial role to help your body make cholesterol, controlling it can lead to a reduced level of both LDL and triglycerides. This action prevents the accumulation of fats on the walls of your blood vessels. Such accumulated fats may – over a period of time – become internal blockages and can prevent a uniform flow of blood. In clinical terms, the thickening of arterial walls is called arthrosclerosis; if left untreated, this condition can eventually give way to chest pain or other types of cardiac problems.
Side effects of pravastatin
Pravastatin is known to cause a few side effects. The most common among the side effects it triggers can include abdominal pain, nausea, cramping of muscles, indigestion, diarrhea, headaches, risks of infections such as common cold, soreness of throat, etc. Most of these side effects are only a temporary occurrence; as your system gets familiar with the drug and its ingredients, these discomforts may cease to exist.
However, pravastatin may also trigger a few serious discomforts or side effects such as softening of muscles, weakness, etc. Side effects of a relatively serious type also include hepatic problems such as discoloration of urine, drop in appetite, excessive spell of tiredness, development of a yellowish tint on your eyes or skin, cramping of muscles in your abdominal area, etc. Upon experiencing any of these discomforts, it is strongly recommended to talk to your treating doctor and the pharmacist.
A few people may have allergies or hypersensitivity to statins. If you have such allergies, they may show up in the form of rashes on skin, topical infections such as hives or as excessive itchiness. It is hence a good practice to inform your physician about all your prior allergies or allergic reactions to both active as well as inactive ingredients present in statins. Very rarely, this drug is noticed to aggravate or worsen diabetes. So, those living with blood sugar problems may need to keep a closer watch of their health parameters on a regular basis.
A very small section of people who took pravastatin has reported side effects such as – being in a confused state of mind, memory lapses, etc. These are however remote occurrences; but, if you experience any of these discomforts, you need to talk to your pharmacist and your treating doctor as promptly as possible. In equally rare instances, pravastatin has led to muscular degeneration or repair – as an autoimmune condition. This may manifest in the form of a few signs such as, tiredness, weakness, pain in muscles, etc. You are advised to talk to your physician upon experiencing any of these symptoms.
Possible interactions of pravastatin with other drugs
Pravastatin can work adversely when it is co-administered with a few other drugs. You need to know that such interactions can lead to some adverse side effects, and can also make the drugs you take to function at lesser efficacy levels. Your pharmacist will advise you to avoid intake of antibacterial drugs (or, a few types of antibiotics) while consuming pravastatin. If taken together, you are likely to experience muscular spams, pain or cramping. Your dosage levels are scrutinized when you develop such muscular conditions. These side effects are more pronounced when you are using antibiotics such as erythromycin, clarithromycin and other similar antimicrobial medications.
Intake of drugs to suppress your immune system along with pravastatin can also lead to a few adverse side effects. Once your immunity levels stand reduced, your body’s ability to absorb drugs like pravastatin also stands diminished. Hence, you may have an additional residue of this drug in your system. This residue is likely to lead to spasms or pains in your muscles. Your pharmacist may hence advise you not to take immunosuppressant medications such as cyclosporine, etc.
A few other medications – especially, those used for the treatment of gout, can lead to breakdown of your muscular wellbeing. Among drugs taken to treat gout, medicines like colchicine may pose an added risk of adverse reactions when taken along with pravastatin. Your treating physician may either tell you to avoid such gout-drugs or may alter the strength / dosages of pravastatin to avoid possible repair of muscles.
Also, if you are taking a few other types of medicines to reduce your cholesterol levels, you need to tell your doctor about them. This is because of the possible interactions and adverse side effects some drugs like niacin or gemfibrozil can trigger in your system. Cholesterol medications such as cholestyramine (which are essentially resins that bind acids of the bile) and other similar drugs may need to be taken after a time gap. A safe time-gap of 1 to 2 hours prior to the intake or 4 to 5 hours after consumption is needed to ensure limited or nil adverse side effects. Such timing is required as these drugs can limit the absorption potential of statins like pravastatin.
In general, you are advised to make a list of all medications that you currently consume. While preparing this list, take good care to add all possible forms of drugs you are presently taking – i.e., over the counter (OTC) drugs, prescription medications, herbal supplements as well as dietary aids. You also need to tell your physician and pharmacist if you have habits like alcohol dependence; intake of this drug along with alcohol may trigger very serious and near-fatal side effects.
Prior medical conditions and intake of pravastatin
There are a few medical conditions that may get worsened or aggravated when you take this drug. Such conditions include thyroid related problems – especially, a suboptimal functioning of your thyroid gland. People with such hypothyroid-conditions are more likely to develop muscular disorders if they take pravastatin.
As mentioned, this drug can also trigger a few hepatic problems; those who already have a hepatic injury are likely to witness decreased efficiency level of their liver. It is hence extremely essential to tell your doctor if you have had (or, having) liver problems or if your family has a history of a liver damage, cirrhosis of liver, etc. For some people, intake of statins such as pravastatin may not reduce the levels of cholesterol. In such instances, it is highly recommended to stop consuming this drug as soon as possible. A continued intake of pravastatin can bring about adverse and counterproductive results, such as incidence of strokes, cardiac problems or a heart attack.
Women who are already pregnant must stay away from this drug. Those who are planning to get pregnant must use proper contraceptives if they are using this medication. In the event of turning pregnant while consuming pravastatin, it is strongly recommended to talk to your doctor immediately about it. The same precaution applies for women who are nursing a baby. Pravastatin can lead to a few seriously adverse reactions and side effects on the infant if a breastfeeding mother is taking this drug.
General precautions for a safer intake of pravastatin
This drug is taken orally, either before or after a meal. Pravastatin is taken at the same timeslots every day. Such regular and timely intake of this drug is likely to increase its efficiency levels. However, you need to note that the drugs may take at least 2 to 3 weeks to show positive results. Your doctor may advise you to take regular blood tests to assess the share of lipids in your blood. Periodic tests done on blood samples can help monitor progress as well as make needful changes to dosage levels, if needed. Periodic diagnosis may also need to be done on your renal function as well as liver function through appropriate tests. The above tests are needed to check if pravastatin has adversely affected the functioning of your liver; the renal function test though is essential as this drug may not be absorbed well if your kidneys are not working well. For people whose kidneys are not working with normal level of efficiency, strength of doses of pravastatin is appropriately lowered or a substitute-drug is administered.
Also, it is believed that the doses of pravastatin alone can lead to better management of blood cholesterol. Contrary to such beliefs, this drug is prescribed as a part of a treatment plan. This plan includes regular workouts, intake of heart-friendly foods as well as taking needful steps to reduce your bodyweight. In other words, stay away from foods that are fried or those made with excessive oils. You may also need to cut down the consumption of alcohol. Intake of alcohol is associated with the build-up of lipids called triglycerides. Also, you may be developing a liver damage while you take alcohol along with statins like pravastatin.
Dosage forms of pravastatin
The dosage forms administered to adults are stronger than those prescribed to younger adults or children. Your doctor will decide on the strength of pravastatin after assessing a host of factors; commonly considered variables include seriousness of the underlying clinical condition, your bodyweight, age as well as how well your body responds to the initial set of doses.
This statin is sold under varying strengths – from 10 mg to 80 mg. While treating adults with a high level of LDL in their blood, the initial doses are restricted to 40 mg. Such doses are prescribed with a frequency of once each day. However, if the medical condition among adults requires a higher dose, its strength is increased to a maximum of 80 mg every day. These aforesaid dosage forms are strictly for adults aged above 18 years. For children aged from 9 to 12 years, the doses must never exceed 30 mg each day. This drug is not administered onto children aged less than 7 years. Younger adults – aged between 13 to 18 years of age – are never given more than 40 mg each day.
In elderly people, their renal function may be slow as compared to younger adults. Hence, a stronger dose may lead to a larger residue of pravastatin left behind in your system. Also, it may take a longer time for such residue to be flushed out of your body. In order to avoid side effects triggered by residual statins, the treating physician may only prescribe very low dosage forms – i.e., in the order of 20 mg to 40 mg to older people. It is for the same reason people with renal disorders are not advised to take a regular dose of pravastatin. Above all, in people aged 64 years or more, the drug is also likely to cause muscular pain and other associated problems.
Possible risks of an overdose of pravastatin
During the course of your medication plan involving pravastatin, you are advised not to stop its consumption abruptly. This is not a good practice and may increase the risks of a likely cardiac disorder as well as strokes. Also, if you have missed a dose, never take it twice to make up for the dose you forgot to take. This is can lead to overdosing. If you have forgotten a dose, and if the next dose is already coming up close, you are advised to skip the forgotten dosage. Some people may forget to take a few doses of pravastatin; in such cases, you are advised to talk to the pharmacist who can help reschedule your dosage plan – i.e., without risks of a likely overdose of pravastatin.
In case of an accidental double-dose, you may run the risk of a likely overdose of pravastatin. How to tell if you are experiencing an overdose? The symptoms are quite distinct in case of an excessive intake of this drug. The common signs of overdose include an acute spell of pain and discomforts in your upper-abdomen, cramping of muscles, diarrhea, persistent spell of vomiting, etc. What needs to be done in such an instance? You must avoid taking more of this medicine and quickly get in touch with your treating doctor. You can also get in touch with 911 or call the nearest poison control center. If you are a resident of Canada, you are strongly advised to contact Health Canada or get in touch with a poison control center located in your province.
How to store pravastatin safely?
Your pharmacist can help you understand the right way to store this drug. It is not a good practice to store pravastatin in areas that have excessive levels of dampness. So, it must not be kept in your bathroom. Also, ensure that the drug does not get exposed to a direct source of sunlight. The recommended ambience for storage is room temperature – i.e., 25 degrees centigrade or about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Last but not least, make sure that the place of storage is out of reach for your pets as well as children. While you travel, you are advised to always keep this drug with you. In other words, never keep it in your check-in baggage. Those who drive often must never keep it inside their glove-compartment of the car; such storage practices can expose the drug to excessive levels of moisture or heat.
In sum, pravastatin inhibits an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase which is essential to make cholesterol. This drug may cause a few side effects such as nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, headaches, muscular pain, common cold, etc. Many of these discomforts last only over a shorter span of time. Once the body gets used to the ingredients of pravastatin, these side effects may soon disappear.
This drug can also cause a few serious side effects in some people; such discomforts include weakness, tiredness, problems associated with the functioning of liver (characterised by a drop in appetite, yellowish tint on eyes, abdominal pains, etc.); it is highly recommended to take needful medical help immediately upon noticing such adverse effects. In some cases, allergies such as rashes on skin, itchiness, etc. may also show up. It is hence a good practice to tell your pharmacist as well as your treating physician about all known allergies or hypersensitivity to ingredients of statins, especially drugs such as pravastatin. Serious side effects of this drug are relatively rare. However, this drug is strictly not administered onto women who are pregnant as well as those who are breastfeeding a baby. If you need additional inputs on the side effects pravastatin can trigger, you are advised to talk to your treating doctor and pharmacist.